Tim and Beth Knorr never suspected a summertime treat for their kids would turn into a seasonal business.
After 15 years as an organic farmer at Crown Point Ecology Center, Tim started running as a hobby. Beth, who is manager of the Countryside Conservancy farmers’ markets, had been making ice pops for their kids, Maggie and Gus, and Tim often ate the frozen treats to cool down after a run.
“He really didn’t like my flavors so he decided to play around and see what he could come up with, and they were really good,” Beth says.
Inspired by paletas (ice pops) he had tasted in Mexico, Tim used locally-grown fruit and organic cane sugar in his pops, and The Knorrs launched Popsmith in 2013.
“Almost every city now has an ice pop company, and Akron deserves one too,” Tim says.
What makes your ice pops better than the ones at the grocery store?
Tim: In almost all the ice pops, we use local fruit, but for accents, like citrus, we use sourced organic. Locally, Huffman’s Fruit Farm and Morning Dew Orchards in Salem are places we work with an awful lot. There are occasional exceptions. Last year, we had to go to Pennsylvania for peaches because there were no peaches in Ohio.
In general, our pops have a ton more fruit in them than grocery-store ice pops, and grocery-store pops are mostly concentrated grape juice, which is no better than sucrose.
Beth: Our flavors are weirder than what you’re going to find in the grocery store. (Store brands) seem to stick with strawberry — and strawberry-lemon is certainly one of our best-sellers with kids — but we like to do more unusual things too.
Our peaches-and-lavender cream, blueberry-lavender-lemon and sour cherry-rose are really great sellers with adults. The floral flavors can be a little overpowering, and a little goes a long way, but we think we’ve hit the right balance.
Where do you get flavor ideas?
Beth: New flavors often depend on what fruit looks good. We’ve been tinkering with a cantaloupe-corn flavor, and some people really love it but we’re having a hard time figuring out different ways to process the corn so the texture’s not gross.
Tim: I want to do a wassail for Christmas in July. It’s icier, and the little bit of clove in it makes it really refreshing.
Beth: We got this book called ‘The Flavor Bible’ so when we find a fruit we want to use, we’ll see what kind of flavors go well with it and experiment.
Other recipes are inspired from things we like to eat. There’s a rhubarb-orange custard tart that I love, and so I knew I wanted to do a rhubarb-orange blossom pop. It’s a great seller for us, nice and refreshing.
Have you ever tried a flavor that didn’t work?
Beth: Last year, we had a blackberry-rhubarb-vanilla-rose, based on a recipe for a dessert that used all those flavors. We typically make a small prototype batch and sample it, but for some reason, we made a production batch, and it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what were we thinking?’
When does your season begin, and where can we find Popsmith?
Tim: Our season runs from the end of May until the end of October. We usually bring nine or 10 flavors to the farmers’ markets. We have two carts right now and will probably get another one to expand the fleet.
Beth: We’re at the farmers’ markets at Howe Meadow and Highland Square, Aurora, Kent Haymaker, Shaker Square and the Cleveland Clinic. It’s full-time in the summer, and we do as many special events as feasible while still remaining sane: birthday parties, anniversaries and corporate events.
Our pops are $3 each, and starting this month, people can subscribe to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture program) where they can buy three- or four-month shares and get 15 pops in a box every month.